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This paper presents a life table for the common mud turtle, Kinosternon subrubrum, in a fluctuating aquatic habitat on the Upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina, USA, using data gathered in a 20-yr mark-recapture study. Data on survivorship and fecundity (clutch size, per capita clutch frequency) were assessed and compared to previously published life table statistics for the slider turtle, Trachemys scripta, in the same body of water and for the yellow mud turtle, K. flavescens, in Nebraska.

The annual survival rate for adult female Kinosternon (87.6%) is significantly higher than that of adult female Trachemys (77.4%). Similarly, male Kinosternon exhibit an annual survival rate (89.0%) significantly higher than that of male Trachemys (83.4%). The mean annual proportion of female Kinosternon that are reproductively active (50.7%) also is significantly higher than that of Trachemys (37.2%). In addition, survival rate from the time eggs are laid by Kinosternon until the hatchlings enter the aquatic environment (26.1%) is significantly higher than that for Trachemys (10.5%).

Comparisons of our findings with those for K. flavescens indicate that these geographically separate populations of congeneric species also differ substantially in age at maturity, mean generation time, and the mean proportion of females that are reproductively active in any given year. Differences were also apparent in mean clutch frequencies and adult survival rates. The differences in life history traits between the two geographically separated populations of congeners seem to be as great as those between the two syntopic populations representing different families (Kinosternidae: K. subruburm and Emydidae: Trachemys scripta). The comparison of life tables for two species from different families having different ecological and evolutionary histories, but living in the same habitat, and of congeneric species in different habitats, is instructive regarding the biological flexibility of species under natural conditions. However, the study suggests that environmental variability has a greater effect on life table statistics than do phylogenetic relationships.